>Friday Poetry Blogging: Old English Edition


The following is one of my favorites from the Old English riddles in the Exeter Book. You can read more – including the naughty ones (one of which HeoCwaeth once posted) – at this site, which presents them in Old English and in translation (based on Craig Williamson’s 1977 edition, so with a numbering system different from Krapp-Dobbie, for those of you who care about those things). For those new to Old English, the ð character is equivalent to the modern th. And now I present it, in Old English and in translation (by John Porter, Anglo-Saxon Riddles, Norfolk, England: Anglo-Saxon Books, 1995, rpt. 2003), without further comment.

Riddle 69

Wundor wearð on wege; wæter wearð to bane.

Wonder formed in wave; water turned to bone.


3 thoughts on “>Friday Poetry Blogging: Old English Edition

  1. >All right, the Americanist confesses: I don’t get it. What exactly is the riddle here? Or what’s the answer? Are both halves of this statement supposed to refer to the same thing? Or do they both refer to something else? And are we supposed to guess what that thing is?

  2. >Yes, both halves refer to the same thing and you are supposed to guess the answer. Like all OE riddles, it works metaphorically (one of the reasons I love them — they suggest language and poetry themselves are riddling).The answer is….*SPOILER WARNING*…either ice or, more specifically, an iceberg.

  3. >Ouchie,I was going to say “a whale,” but then I read the spoiler, and now I won’t say “whale” after all. Although it does have a certain poesy about it.

Add to the Discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s